Category Archives: Culture Shock

That time we got stuck in Botswana

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you’” (1 Kings 3:5 NIV).

Living in South Africa has at times been a paper war nightmare. As it is with a couple from two nationalities there is always more documentation, visas, and passports to constantly keep updated. This year I finally got my permanent residency permit. It took 6 years to get there. The home affairs offices changed procedure so many times, losing our applications when they moved office, sent it to the wrong place. At one occasion we had to type everything ourselves into the home affairs computer because the lady didn’t know how to operate a PC, then photograph the screenshot and email it to the Pretoria office!

In the process we became so knowledgeable in this area that we have been able to help quite a number of binational couples with their paper work.

On one of these visa occasions, we submitted the application for my South African visa and were waiting for it to be issued. After a couple of visits to the local Home Affairs office, it was just a matter of waiting for the visa to arrive. We were told we westerners are just too impatient! Two weeks before the expiry of the current visa the officer assured us that there would be no problem—we should just remain patient, which we were. The week the visa expired, we went back to the department to find that all the staff was on a training course in a different city placing them out of office for at least three weeks! This posed to be quite a problem for us, because the immigration department in our region was very strict and we knew this would mean trouble or even deportation as in the case of many other people in similar situations.

The long and short of the matter was that the immigration department advised us to go through a border and come back, and they would give us an automatic three-month extension. This sounded like a plan. We decided to go through to Botswana, pass through the border, and come back and get the three-month extension. We packed and left the next morning. After traveling for about two and a half hours, we reached the border post. We had entered through it, but to our amazement, the immigration officer refused to allow me back into the country because of my expired visa! We were stuck in Botswana and had to make another plan. We prayed and felt we should go to another border post, which was very far. We had no Botswana currency and little to drink, and it was an extremely hot day. There was no shop at the border post and no town or settlement nearby.

We traveled very far to the other border post only to receive the same bad news when we arrived. This border post was literally in the middle of nowhere; apart from some chickens and a few men with machine guns there was nothing. It was so dry the ground was burned; there were a few dusty bushes and a shack, but nothing else.

Here are some pictures I took that day. They cant possibly capture the heat, the dust, the thirst and the feeling of totally depending on God to get out of that.

As we stood behind the counter and wondered what to do next, the immigration officer did a double take and called us over. He asked me who I was and explained that he had dreamt about me the previous night. In the dream, he continued, I spoke Afrikaans to him. So although I had been in South Africa for just 6 months, thinking on my feet, I quickly switched to speaking Afrikaans with him and it made him obviously very happy. (I had watched some Afrikaans TV shows just to help me learn the language). He was so happy about it that he gave me a one-year extension on the visa, which is quite an extraordinary thing on its own, and he helped us through. We just praised the Lord as we came through!

Overjoyed that we would be able to come home, we also experienced God’s provision in regards to fuel. The BMW we drove at the time gave us on average about 650 km per tank of fuel. Well, that day we drove 1,280km on one tank and unbelievably pulled into the gas station on the last fumes. Hallelujah! God is good!

botswana 037.jpg
A majestic Baobab Tree we passed on our adventurous trip through Botswana.

 

 

“Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (Gen. 31:24 NIV).

 

 

This and many more testimonies of adventures with the Lord you find in our book

wpid-wpid-91im2p9hj5l-_sl720_.jpgThe Powerful Impact of a Spirit Led Life.

You can download it for kindle or order the paperback book.

Both would make us very happy!

The book is also available in German translation.

 

 

Advertisements

Our youth expressing themselves against abuse

Fighting the rape epidemic in South Africa
Our young dancers have started work on a dance drama Jan Venter and I developed a while ago, and I am positive this is going to be instrumental in raising awareness in young men and women that we’re all responsible to intervene and prevent abuse!
check my post about the topic here.
So thankful for our youth worker Jan Venter to give our town’s youth a shot at expressing themselves for a good cause!

 

Special Needs school: So many needs!

May_0005Today my husband, myself and a very good friend went and visited again the Tshilidzini Special School.

In a previous blogpost I described this school more detailed.

May_0007We had decided to go and visit specific classes at separate visits to bring specific aid to the different departments. There are 360 learners at the school and it is impossible to bring something for everyone at one visit.

Today we went to visit grade R-3.

May_0044

May_0018

With the help of friends from our church and Hope for Limpopo and using my own ressources I had purchased different educational materials such as CD players, educational CDs ranging from sound effects such as weather and animal noises to nursery rhymes, stories and songs. I also made shape, number and letter sorting boxes that can be used by deaf and blind children alike since the letters are made from wooden shapes that must be matched to the appropriate shape fixed to the box.

Discussing education with one of the care takers.
Discussing education with one of the care takers.

May_0020 I had also been making several educational tools myself such as letters and numbers to feel and match.

winter clothes
winter clothes

We brought modelling clay, toy animals, puzzles, toys, clothes and blankets. The children enjoyed me singing a few songs with them and Roelien handed out some sweets for everybody.

May_0026
Trying to be of some inspiration to the carers of the school.

May_0030

The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you're happy and you know it" for them.
The children enjoyed me singing Ïf you’re happy and you know it” for them.
singing for the children
singing for the children

May_0042

 

May_0043
the children singing along happily

 

sweets!
sweets!

May_0054

We went to the very drab and depressing dorm rooms to take measurements for the mattresses we are going to order for the children.

May_0055

In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?
In these dormitories the children spend 10 years of their lives. They deserve some color and joy?

I so hope we can find some sponsors to help renovate this boarding school for the visually, hearing and physically impaired children!

May_0058
That’s where the 4-5 year old children live and sleep.
May_0062
Cafeteria for 160 blind and visually impaired kids …

May_0059 May_0060 May_0061 May_0063

Thank you from the courts

IMG_5225
Intermediary Salome Phaho and myself when I handed R 4000 worth of comfort over to the court. Yeah, sorry we had no professional camera with us, just cell phones. But that’s exactly it – helping is gritty and not about looking pretty right?

Thank you from the courts

Today I received this letter from the intermediary for child witnesses and victims of sexual crimes at the Magistrate Court in Sibasa about how our Comfort boxes now are helping even children in the Musina court:

Good Afternoon Mam,blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus who causeth us to triumph through Christ!

I am simply excited for the foundation that has been laid because for this vision to manifest like this means Victory!

My colleagues Nthabiseng Dzhivhani has just given out a 12-15yrs box yesterday @ Musina and I heard the girl couldn’t put it down.

This project is really working as I realized that most kids come dejected and rejected with little or no support from parents or relatives as if they chose to be victims.

But when they find LOVE in that little box is like their WORLD has suddenly changed as they understand that irrespective of what happened and how they feel and what others take them for, there’s still HOPE in life because someone out there loves them and care about them so much.

DSC02559Thank you once again Woman of God for your heart for souls.

Pass my regards to Pastor

Salome Phaho

So wonderful to hear about those boxes really making a difference in children’s lives.

Of course I cannot post details about the children involved, but share some photos of the people who work with the children and pictures of the court:

DSCN0137
The ladies working with the children who come to testify in court.
DSCN0140
the entrance to the court room
DSCN0143
the tiny space available for children to wait for their court hearing. Our boxes make it so much more comforting for them.

At the Magistrate Court in Sibasa

A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls.
A typical comfort box contains a snack, juice, new stuffed toy (that was cuddled and blessed to carry some comfort before putting into the box), a book, sticker or colouring activity, toys for boys or girls. A typical carebox contains a friendly stuffed animal for girls, hotwheels (matchbox cars) for boys, a book, sticker activities, a snack, some sweets and a fruit juice. Many children come hungry to court and have to wait for hours until their hearing.
20140414_083916
Discussing with Magistrate Kellermann the need for a more comforting environment for underaged victims of sexual violence. A lot of cases can not go to trial because the children are not able to testify due to nervousness and stress.
DSC02559
Handing out my first set of 40 comfort boxes containing R4000 worth of items such as fruit juices, snacks, a lovely stuffed toy, sticker activity books, toy cars, crayons etc.
IMG_5239
To get to the rural Magistrate courts one drives about an hour from Louis Trichardt in the North of Limpopo province. A truly underdeveloped infrastructure in the rural courts makes serving justice a challenge.

As many of my followers know, here in South Africa we deal with child abuse and child rape in a severity that is unbelievable.

Today I went to the Magistrate Court in Sibasa delivering 40 care boxes.

The boxes contain high quality toys, stickers, activity books, snacks and a high quality fruit juice. Many children have not had breakfast when they come to testify in court and often they wait for a long period of time.

I had been talking to a friend about the plight of the children in Limpopo, with child abuse rates soaring so high. She is a Magistrate judge and I had asked if there is anything we as a community could do to make testifying easier for victims of child abuse.  After Magistrate Kellerman got the permission by her head of department, I started making of these boxes to help the children bridge the uncomfortable time at court. The boxes will be used in rural courts such as Sibasa, Waterval and Musina.

This has also come up as a topic with the Guardian Angels, our local High Schools care group, who helped me with the collection of boxes while we informed them about their own responsibility to step in and step up when they see abuse happen.

toosmart
Teaching our local high School students the importance of getting involved when they see abuse happen instead of lookign the other way is another leg of our efforts to fight the rape epidemic in our province.

How an individual responds to unpleasant events in their life is crucial for their future.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

To assist a child and young woman or young man in overcoming the trauma of abuse is a call we all need to take up in this nation.

To end this, there are many different steps needed. We as a church are going into schools, training learners how to prevent abuse, how to interfere when you know a peer faces abuse, how to report abuse. We train parents. We try to get the community involved.

It is very important that abuse cases to go to court and the perpetrators get sentenced.

IMG_5216
Packing out in total 40 care boxes (more will come the next months as the project takes of) in front of the court staff.
IMG_5235
Magistrate Court in Sibasa- the family courtroom in a mobile trailer! The infrastructure around the court is basic, to say the least. The judges and lawyers work tirelessly under challenging conditions, even in protable offices. The main road leading to this court is a dirt road.

 

As I wrote in my post about courts, https://germanytoafrica.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/going-to-court/ this is a crucial part of the right against rape in South Africa.

DSCN0137
The court staff responsible for keeping the children safe during the trial. They have a very tiny office and it is not easy to keep children comfortable there. I hope the snacks, toys and books will be of some help.
DSCN0138
The children are testifying through a CCTV system so they do not have to face the criminals.
DSCN0143
The office where the children are waiting for the hearing or coming to for delivering their testimony via CCTV.

 

The stress is very high. A case can only be processed when the judge finds the child capable of making a statement. For that, the child must show an understanding of truth, understanding of consequences of lying. Since most children only understand tribal languages, the have to be able to communicate via a translator and intermediary.

The judge says that unfortunately often children stress so much, they tense up and refuse all communication. The case can not go to trial then.

The comfort boxes will be handed to the child by the intermediary. This will give them a positive start in their communication. The child will be more positive about the experience and also have juice and a snack. They often come to court without having had breakfast and without a lunch box. These comfort boxes cover all that.

IMG_5230
Magistrates Pieter and Hanlie Kellermann who brought my attention to the situation of the child witnesses in court.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
Talking to the court staff about the importance to support the under aged victims when they testify at court. Intense words for an intense situation.
DSC02565
Intermediary Salome Phaho (left of me) shared with me her challenges in keeping the children busy. Some NGOs are coming and going with own project ideas, not always practical. they are looking for long-term commitment in a cooperative way. I prefer to first go in and assess the real needs at the base.

 

 

 Statistics from the South African Police regarding child abuse

 

 

 We later received a BIG thank you from the court staff.

IMG_5234
Wendy house for young victims at the back of the Sibasa court.
20140414_083939
We also visited a Wendy house in the back of the court property where we were greeted by a volunteer who had put up his office inside of it. The purpose of the Wendy house is for children to spend their waiting time in.  It seemed a bit unpractical as according to the court staff the young girls get separated from their mothers and during the warmer month it becomes a “hothouse” and can not be used. The toys inside are broken and dirty. The tiny room is filled with the NGO’s computer, coffee table and feels not very inviting.

20140414_083837

Pray for the mothers

South Africa has some of the highest incidences of child and infant rape in the world.[22] In 2001, it was reported by the South African Police Service that children are the victims of 41 percent of all rapes reported in the country.[23] Although there are varying numbers on the number of reported rapes of children, one report states that in 2000, 21,538 rapes and attempted rapes of children under the age of 18 were reported and another from 2001 states that there were 24,892 rapes.[23][24]

A trade union report said a child was being raped in South Africa every three minutes.[25] Some cite a 400% increase in sexual violence against children in the decade preceding 2002.[26] A third of the cases are committed by a family member or close relative.[27] Child welfare groups believe that the number of unreported incidents could be up to 10 times that number. The largest increase in attacks was against children under seven.

A number of high-profile infant rapes appeared since 2001 (including the fact that they required extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild urinary, genital, abdominal, or tracheal systems). In October 2001, a 9-month-old girl named Tshepang was raped by an HIV-positive man and had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery in Cape Town.[28][29][30] In February 2002, an 8-month-old infant was reportedly gang raped by four men. One has been charged. The infant has required extensive reconstructive surgery. The 8-month-old infant’s injuries were so extensive, increased attention on prosecution has occurred.[26]

A significant contributing factor for the escalation in child abuse is the widespread myth in HIV ravaged South Africa that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of AIDS.[31] This virgin cleansing myth exists in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.[32] The child abusers are often relatives of their victims and are at times their fathers or providers.[31]

Sexual violence against minors older than the age of infancy is also extremely prevalent in South Africa. According to the Medical Research Council,[33] more than one in four minors experience physical violence at home daily or weekly and more than one third of girls have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Its study also states that by 2009, 40% of all victims who reported rape to the police were under 18 and 15% were under 12 years old.

Intercession

South Africa has extremely high levels of sexual assault. “The prevalence of rape, and particularly multiple perpetrator rape… is unusually high,” according to a 2012 report by the think-tank the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
Lizette Lancaster, manager of the ISS Crime and Justice Information Hub, says there are many complex reasons South Africa has such a high sexual offence rates.
South Africa is a very paternalistic society where women are not seen as equals, contributing to abuse. “Rape, as you know, is not a sexual act but a violent act,” Lancaster said.

“Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes in South Africa,” noted the NGO coalition Shukumisa. It points to research, conducted in Gauteng in 2010, that found one-quarter of women questioned in the study “had been raped in the course of their lifetimes, while almost one in 12 women had been raped in 2009. But only one…

View original post 56 more words

Heavenly minded

I do not know about you, but sometimes I feel like the prophet Asaph:

Psa 82:1-8 A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”

Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

Here in South Africa, I often drive by shockingly pompous places like this one which is a game auctioning facility where buck are sold at astronomical prices:

Antique furniture imported from Belgian castles decorates game breeders offices and the antelope lodge in amazing architecture. No problem at all, everyone do as they enjoy.

On the other hand I am faced daily with the lack of appropriate educational facilities and the most basic of provision for people. In South Africa, 10 % of all 0-4 year olds are malnourished, according to UNICEF 84 percent of South African children do not have any access to educational stimulation before they start grade 1.

Our magistrate courts have no facilities for the hundreds of victims of child rape they process every year, those poor children have to sit next to the perps in court.

Yesterday a boy drowned in a school toilet in a rural area that was basically just a long drop.

We labor hard and sometimes it hurts, to be nothing in the eyes of the great and mighty who so easily could make a tremendous difference.

Being measured by the size of your car and the interior deco of your home can wear down the most spirited fighter over time. So that’s why I share this bible verse with you, because I strongly believe that this world is not everything.

love-island-art-wide

The kindness you share here, the compassion and love, will carry over to the next world, where God will make up for all the unrighteous mocking. I believe Mother Theresa will be a royal princess there!

Currently I am in the process of collecting, buying and making educational material to be taken to the Tsilidzini Special School next week. We need Montessori materials to count, weigh, feel, etc which can be sent directly to the Emmanuel Church where I am working.

I am also trying to purchase 360 waterproof mattresses for the boarding school kids at the Special school as bed wetting seems a major problem.

As to the rape victims: the state of social services regarding under aged rape victims is saddening and really typical for Limpopo, where the triage of services is not working as effectively as in other provinces.

I am handing out the very informative Rape Response protocol posters by the Viva organization at own costs to be put up at public places as to inform women of what they can and should do in the unfortunate event of rape.

If you are interested in the report, pls send me your email address. I am also in the process of putting together these parcels for the young victims: Out of years of experience in a South African setting my friend at Viva suggests a soft toy, a chocolate bar, kiddies juice, a hoodie or cap to feel safe in and maybe something to colour in or sticker activity to have an outlet for nervousness.

NGOs are the ones doing all the little steps to help where the need is greatest. Do not give up your good work, everybody!

Find more information in the discussion below.

Collecting and making

Schools have opened again in South Africa and my little preschool is working hard to deliver excellent schooling to all children.

At the same time I am working hard on creating and purchasing sensory teaching aids for the blind and deaf children at the Tshilidzini Special school. I will be going in about 2 weeks time to help and assist the teachers. We also want to get a local African artist to paint a nice mural to brighten up the drab environment of the doormrooms.

I need to purchase paint, ornaments, fruit and veg for a better diet for the children, mattresses and some CD players. I have put together a collection of music CDs that are ideal to teach with.

The South African educational system lacks on every level. Education, public schooling, is expensive. The government is not putting the taxes into education (nor into roads, health care etc. It goes into villas and luxury cars). Teachers haven’t heard of pedagogics and are very little schooled in education theory, educational psychology, scientific background.

Sigh.

In Africa, you do never know where to start. Jump in and believe that every drop of sweat you put in has the power to drive away the darkness. Prayers are welcome.

Thanks a lot, fake interpreter! #MadibaMemorial making history.

As somebody who works in the education field in South Africa, I am tremendously impressed with what happened at the Madiba Memorial. A genius planned a fantastic stage act to expose some of our most pressing issues.

For those of you who do not know, millions across the globe were inspired and moved by speeches made at former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.

You can read about this inspiring event everywhere in the web. Maybe you were also amused at Obama’s selfie shoot,

and Michelle’s angry expression resulting in her even switching seats with the Potus during intermission since he seemed to get a little too comfy with the blonde he was seated next to.Great photo-story here.

But what the international community was really outraged about was this sign language interpreter who was not signing in South African or any other known sign language, but seemed to have stepped right off a star ship :

Or was it true Anti-American activism at work here, really really subtly?

history

Watch him “translate” President Obama in his historic address to honour old president Nelson Mandela for his life’s work here:

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including Barack Obama’s speech, was simply making up his own signs, say the Deaf Federation of South Africa. David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African, was “waving his hands around but there was no meaning.”

Mr Buxton said it was “childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learned a word of sign language in his life.”

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It’s quite audacious if you think about it.”

I beg to differ. I am saying:

Well done, Comrade!

You accomplished what many of us tried before but always failed: to raise awareness on an international stage of the outrageous South African habit to employ someone for any other reasons than qualification.

When it comes to former-cleaner-come-high-paid-municipal leader, nobody cares if a non-educated buddy of another functionary gets to decide that raw sewage can safely spill into drinking water supplies. And when thousands of Limpopo villagers have no access to running water because Julius Malema well received millions of Rand for a government tender but failed to complete the pipeline he had promised to build, this raises not even an eyebrow internationally.

Let us learn the lesson. Maybe talking about headmasters of special needs schools who receive outrageous pay but do not bother to learn about education should get an reaction?

Will the CIA hold the ANC responsible for allowing a mentally unstable, unqualified person such close access to the president of the United States? Are we ever going to be able to discuss qualifications in South Africa?

Blind children who sit in dark, empty rooms while the donated Braille typewriters stand unused in the shelves because the principal has no idea what to use them for (but he did bother to study the car marked before buying that high end SUV) can maybe draw attention to this problem.

tshilidszini 020Or a fully equipped computer room that does not get used because, as I am told in no uncertain terms: deaf children can not learn words. Just like that. When I am informing the teachers that you can download loads of visual vocabulary games for free online, they do not even look up from their whatsapp chats on their cell phones.

tshilidszini 005a
These facilities built in the 1970s house 400 physically challenged, hearing or visually impaired and albino children who do not get sufficient stimulation or adequate education. And nobody seems to care.

Applaud this comrade who was bold enough to show how the cadre does not bother a bit about educating the special needs people of South Africa!

Now the national “ministry of explaining things away” claims this poor person is schizophrenic http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Fake-interpreter-says-he-is-Schizophrenic-20131212

Well, whatever episode you are suffering on the mental spectrum, you are normally much more likely to regress back to old habits rather than making up non-intelligible signs. For him to sign: mama makes great stew, or at least repeatedly use the SA sign for Mandela, would have been more likely. Which means this interpreter probably never knew how to sign in the first place.

Singing together with the parents of my preschool’s first ever Christmas Concert.

Living in South Africa can be frustrating, to say the least. I learned: involve some topic that matters internationally, like offending the international deaf community, and you might draw some bit of attention to major South African problems. Will things change? Not through international outrage.

At always, it will be the tedious works of love by dedicated individuals that will continue making a difference.

Here is a great blog summarizing the correct steps that should have been taken in appointing an interpreter for such an historic event:

“This whole thing makes me sad. So terribly sad. What has happened to Madiba’s dream? A country ruled in fairness to all it’s peoples? A just government, portraying the hopes and aspirations of a wonderful nation?

“Let us hope that clear minds and cool heads consider the questions raised. The interpreter is just a symptom, you guys. We need to address the disease, not blame that poor man for the real problem.”

PS. It gets even more bizarre. In a weird turn of events the South African Government now admits their interpreter who was entrusted with the task of translating Barack Obama, president of the USA, does not really understand English.
“For you to be able to interpret you must understand the language that’s being spoken at the podium.  He is Xhosa speaking as his first language, the English was a bit too much for him. So yes he could not translate from English to sign language,” says Bogopane-Zulu.

South Africa, please wake up. Now even the African American (black) president of the USA fell victim to BEE.

If you can do with a little chuckle, check out what the “fake interpreter” really said:

A Special Needs School: Love the Children

PS: Read the update on this post here: Revisited

 

When you live in South Africa, chances are that you are barely making it through your month.

tshilidszini 028a

That’s why at month end the supermarkets are overcrowded with people who received their pay and can buy some food again. I was not used to this from my former life in Germany. I now earn a fraction of what I brought home monthly in Germany. Medical costs are high – my son needed his teeth fixed and it actually cost more than what I get in a month.

As pastors of a big community church in the poorest of all SA provinces, we deal with so many crises that it sometimes seems like climbing a never ending mountain. We had to bury a lot of young people recently due to crime and traffic accidents.

Working for a church means to be the crisis center of a community. And a church in a poor community in the poorest province has very limited funds, so you end up paying a lot out of your own pocket. A new T-shirt for your child or some shoes for a needy sister? I hope some of you can relate when I write that one becomes a little hesitant to get involved in new things. I am not one of the south Africans driving around with a flashy car spending my mornings in gyms and glitzy malls. Wouldn’t mind, but there is real life happening to real people and i don’t want to play the violin while the titanic is busy sinking. I’d rather be tossing more people onto the life boats, if you know what i mean.

In Africa it goes like this: if you have once helped, you will be always responsible to help. Somehow helping creates the impression you have got a money making donkey in your backyard somewhere. We had many people who we helped, showing up again and again demanding more and more things, not understanding that my sons also must eat.

But the Lord Jesus challenges us to never close our hearts, we need to trust Him to replenish what was given.

Out of that call to love, we dared once more to go and check out people who might be in need. You know, when it comes to children, you just have to throw caution into the wind and get ready to help.

So today I have been on the road to Thohoyandou, the former capital of Venda in the Limpopo province.

Image

Africa runs at a very different pace (hurry up and wait).

This Special Needs School has been all the time on my mind though, and after being in contact with the headmaster and some people who wanted to help, I was pushing my husband and finally today we got to go!

I want to share some impressions and pictures with you.

I pray and hope my words can reach your heart and those of some people able to support.

The school was founded under the old Afrikaans regime, a huge complex with great facilities – in theory.

It is immediately evident upon arriving at the school that the gardens are landscaped and the offices comfortable.

Apart from the front, the back buildings are starting to show signs of neglect and disrepair.

At the moment, the TSS is home to 360 visually and hearing impaired children as well as physically disabled children and children with various degrees of mental disabilities who are schooled in 3 separate complexes at the school.

Image

The Principal, Mr. Maluma, received us sitting at his desk.

He informed us that this is a government school. The government build the school in the 1970s. The different buildings on the vast complex are big and solid. But it is obvious that for a long time no repairs have been done.

Image

The Deputy Principle of TSS Mr. Msrabu was so kind to lead us around the school premises.

This is the main building where the staff offices are.

Please read my report carefully. It is easy to come in, judge and criticize. I really do not want to do that. I am sure the staff of such an institution is really weary of people with a camera throwing some bags of cookies around and thinking they are saving the world.

It is hard to serve at any place and not get accustomed to all the wrongs over the years so much so that you get comfortable and stop saving the world, though.

The way leading to the teaching and housing area of the visually impaired. You are looking at classrooms.

Image

Classrooms around a courtyard.

Image

Image

Image

Dorm room for 7-12 year old girls. Everything was clean except for a strong smell of urine due to the bedwetting problems of many children.

Mr. Maluma kept stressing the fact that they need waterproof mattresses.

I really wish the government would provide the funds to renovate the dorm rooms and add some cheer and deco to them.

Another dorm room.

Image

Image
Just get me some paint a a few arty aunties and lets paint this happy!

Stairway to the first floor where there are more bedrooms. I was sad to notice the total absence of decorations.

The cafeteria for the blind.

Image

The facilities were all very neat and clean. Although to me the bedrooms are totally drab and sad, I am aware that many learners are from backgrounds where they probably never even had a bed of their own and also not three meals a day. That is much, and it is too little at the same time.

Roof of the kitchenImage

The government pays the school R17 (about 2 USD) per child per day for food. The parents pay a fee of 1400 ZAR, about 160 USD, per year as a school fee.

As I said it is a government school, the principal and staff are paid by the government. There is no extra initiative to repair the school and purchase any extras out of the private pocket. The government seems to have no funding available to upgrade the cafeteria. The chairs and tables are so worn. I pray we will meet somebody with enough funds and a hart to change this!

Image

The library and resource room. The materials where basically 20 years old or older.

Image

Kids are between grade K (in South Africa it is called grade R) and grade 7.

The severity of their disability differs greatly.

Image

A great number of Albino children (lacking normal pigmentation) whose eyesight is usually seriously impaired, often up to 80%, but who are otherwise fine, are in these special needs classes. To me it was astonishing that they were not wearing any glasses. I do not know enough of the customs in their villages to be able to judge if they are actually better off at this school. I personally felt that the environment in the classrooms was careless and unengaged.

The children were definitely bored as this was not the appropriate place of schooling for those with Albinism.

Image

The classrooms lack teaching materials especially for the little ones.

The kids live at the school but do not have any personal belongings. There are no decorations and also no special materials to teach blind kids. In most classrooms the children were asleep on their desks.

There were Braille typewriters in the class but the teacher said she does not know how to use them.

These typewriters are the only way that blind children can write.

The manager had never heard of Braille and was amazed when I showed him that you can type dots that form an alphabet.

The teachers said it is too difficult for her, she is new. She has been working there since 2010.

I see the effort in teachign the children academic skills. It would be nice if some fun franchises such as Kindermusik could be sponsored to come in and support the teachers.

I noticed that there was only one crafts class,  all other craft classes such as sewing and wood work were closed down, although they could produce toys and the likes for the school. I hope the leadership will realize again that fundraising can and must come from within the school, and the nearby tourism due to the proximity of the Kruger National park would provide a great source of income if for example woodwork was to be sold.

tshilidszini 025a

Another challenge I noticed is that severely mentally ill children where together with learners who were only hearing impaired and obviously frustrated with the little education they were receiving.

Although the school is only up to grade 7, learners are often 20 years of age when they finish school due to the fact that up to the time they get to this school, they have not been given any education at all. Hearing impaired children have not learned to communicate even the simplest terms in sign language before. The teachers have to do a lot of hard ground work and are in over their heads.

tshilidszini 027

These teens were all desperate for a hug and some praise for their samplers of their work.

tshilidszini 023tshilidszini 029a

One teacher, asked about the stimulation the children are receiving in the afternoons, told us they are only roaming about. No toys, no activities. I want to bring toys for each child, but I am told that the teachers are afraid that this will cause strive amongst the children. I understand that problem.

I can make simple Montessori-type teaching aids by myself for these children. I will try to get our people to help me purchase the materials needed to make those teaching aids myself.

But I would really need you to ask for some sponsors for waterproof mattresses, and anything else you can think of as well.

There is no visible application of modern educational materials. The teachers need to be taught to use computer programmes to teach vocabulary to the hearing impaired children.

tshilidszini 032

This is a government school. But the braille typewriters stand unused because teachers are not knowledgeable about their use.

There is a computer room with about 16 computers in it and I am told the deaf children can never learn to operate a computer.

When I mention that there are loads of educational games available for cheap or even free online (like for example sorting a picture to match a word), the teachers in the class who are on their cell phones and the manager as well say they hear that for the first time.

Who can support us to be involved in helping??? It’s not just material needs. The children are sleeping their formative years away. So much could be done.

The kids were desperate for a hug and an appreciative word.

tshilidszini 035a
This lovely young first grader sang for us a song with a voice as clear as a mountain stream. So beautiful. Her teacher was the mopst enthusiastic of all the teachers we met, although she has to make do with materials more than 20 years old – only two buckets full of plastic toys, no numbers or counting beads, no alphabet to feel etc. I want to make her some tools like that.

This little blind girl touched my heart with her beautiful song about the love of Jesus she was singing for us. I so hope to have the time soon again to go again and show the teachers how to use teaching aids.

What I can not do is to buy 360 standard mattresses with plastic covering.

The sad thing is that my skin colour is always putting me in the box of “rich and responsible for everything”. Which is not true – I had to even borrow a car to go there.

The classroom with a teacher I really enjoyed. She was trying to do the best for her grade 1 learners with whatever materials she had.

tshilidszini 033a

The teacher urgently needs some toys and learning materials. All she has are some plastic toys in two plastic buckets.

I can rally my friends to help get 360 stuffed toys so the kids do not have to sleep alone on a cold room.

I can make teaching aids.

I can get books and building blocks.

I can try to inspire the teachers to re-open the workshops so that students can produce goods to the benefit of all. (toys can be self made as well).

Can you help us contact organizations who might donate modern day teaching aids to the school?

I can talk to farmers to donate fresh produce and food.

I can buy treats.

I can inspire my youth group to come and do a show for the kids and minister the love of Jesus to them.

Can you find sponsors for the mattresses and other material needs?

Lots of blessings to you from South Africa,

Christiane van Heerden

tshilidszini 048

Youth work against Crystal Meth – Tik – abuse

IMG_0112Tik, a cheap methamphetamine, is swamping South Africa. The rate of addiction can be extremely fast for some people. Tolerance develops rapidly, so users need more and more to get high, and start going on longer and longer binges. Some avoid sleep for several days while using. People also

Once it’s in a community it wreaks havoc on everyone. Our church employes a full time youth pastor who serves as a counselor at the local High school. His charity group, the guardian angels, decided to do something about addressing the substance abuse on the school grounds.

church 005a
Our Youth pastor Jan Venter, initiator of the guardian Angels care group, and Jenny de Klerk, the High Schools co-ordinator, discussing new projects!

I helped them out and had them “take back some territory” as I asked them under the guidance of Jan, our Emmanuel youth pastor and initiator of the guardian Angels, to pose at some of the “hot spots” of smoking and drug dealing on the school premises.

I took some photos and this was the result:

toosmartThe tik generation is enrolling into school ten years after the drug (crystal methamphetamine) hit the streets of South Africa. Children born from mothers who abused the substance during pregnancy are now living with side-effects characterized by those similar to foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), but far worse. In some classrooms in the Cape Flats up to half of the students show symptoms of FAS/foetal-tik symptoms, namely brain damage, facial deformities and growth defects.

Luckily the epidemic has not hit Limpopo that hard (yet?).

That’s why we found it necessary to inform our students thoroughly on the subjects of drugs in a very visual way. Last friday I spoke to about 100 youth on the origins of joints that are often mixed with meth, and how meth is produced and why it is so highly addictive. Yes, some chemistry and biology was involved but it was all quite entertaining.

We even did our own “faces of meth” (ever googled that in image search?) experiment:

facebymethAs the head students of both Primary and High School attend our Youth meetings I find it really important not just only inform the kids present why drugs are never an option but to challenge them to reach out to those who stand at the sidelines. Those kids are often already marginalized by poverty, problematic backgrounds, poor self-esteem and highly vulnerable to drugs. Often kids get introduced into drug-using circles in order to feel more grown up, to “belong”, to be cool.

And even that first joint can ruin such a child’s life forever. Crystal meth, tik, sprinkled on top of marijuana, it is a highly addictive, life-wrecking cocktail, and renders women and girl tik addicts extremely vulnerable.

Sometimes it feel like the “good kids” couldn’t care less about the endangered ones, often even somewhat happy that there’s less competition around for them.

We got some pretty rich people in our towns leadership, building themselves outrageous mansions on top of the hill with municipal money while the schools and roads are in disrepair and the hospitals are less than adequately equipped. A doctor friend of mine just told me this week there weren’t even latex gloves provided and so his nurses refused to treat even badly injured children … this is Africa. In my German home we were taught to care about each other. Africa? it’s every newly empowered BEE winner for himself.

My job? Trying to instill some compassion to reach out to everybody else like the desolate kids in the bushes in front of the mansions …

IMG_0017
Some of the fun people of our Youth who come from great backgrounds, and will hopefully become multiplicands of a new moral standard and community development in South Africa.
Sharing some cool facts with the youth.

IMG_0020 IMG_0100

Parks, Parks, Parks!!!

Traveler's Log

If you ever visit Germany, make sure you enjoy the plentiful parks everywhere.

IMG_2778

There are lots of historical ones,

There are state-of-the-art modern playgrounds everywhere,

IMG_2589

public displays of art,

animal enclosures in the middle of a city,

IMG_1197

freely accessible for everybody …

IMG_2575

I love that about Germany!

IMG_2281

IMG_2772

IMG_1737

Regenbogenland (8)

IMG_1271

Dadaaaa: and now South African public playgrounds:

playground

I am currently living in a nation where the local municipalities will spend tens of thousands of Dollars (130.000 south African Rand) on buying fried chicken in a month, but there are thousands of learners without a school building, there are no books, insufficient medical care …

Our German chancellor lives in a rented apartment, our South African president enjoys pricey tax-money paid upgrades to his homestead while the feeding of the desolate is left to charities.

South Africa actually has very high tax revenues and could easily fix all kinds of social problems.

What I…

View original post 96 more words

GREAT TIME AT YOUTH!!

Currently we are teaching the Youth at our church on how to be a true hero!

What's up at church

We had an awesome time at Youth inC. this past Friday. We danced, Worshiped and saw what affects drugs can have on our bodies and what it does to us over periods of time.

IMG_0039 IMG_0084IMG_0079IMG_0091 IMG_0132 IMG_0112 IMG_0102 IMG_0118

Thank you Christiane for showing us why its cool NOT to do drugs!

Jean-Claude Nell

View original post

Imagine all the people

...the moment when Wolfgang realized he was wearing pantyhose in public
…the moment when Wolfgang realized he was wearing pantyhose in public

I love faces. Amazing stories. You can tell a lot from where they are from, what they believe in, what they try to be, by peoples faces. Believe it or not I can tell a catholic face from a protestant one.

The Daily Prompt by wordpress today is: Imagine All the People

Photographers, artists, poets: show us IMAGINE.

Simple. I’ve just come back from Landshut, Bavary, Germany, where once every 4 years all the citizens imagine they are in 1475 on some big wedding.

When you are chosen to be one of the 2700 actors, you must not trim your hair for at least 2 years, yes they let you go to work in your bank like that.

So here it comes: People who imagine they are someone else. All of them.

Photos are my own.

The local dentist
The local dentist

.

medieval mercenaries singing some sinister chorus
medieval mercenaries singing some sinister chorus
I think I found Heidis grandfather.
I think I found Heidis grandfather.
These are all real people with real day jobs. instead of playing Hobbiton, they recreate painstakingly a royal wedding that took place in 1475. The whole city comes together and makes a lot of money out of this!
These are all real people with real day jobs. instead of playing Hobbiton, they recreate painstakingly a royal wedding that took place in 1475. The whole city comes together and makes a lot of money out of this!
Faces, faces ... amazing how real they come across.
Faces, faces … amazing how real they come across.
Children displaying different medieval attractions, child games and playgrounds of the historical period
Children displaying different medieval attractions, child games and playgrounds of the historical period
Imagine you are a princess...
Imagine you are a princess…
IMG_1519
Medieval Cat lady … rooster aunty??? Okay …
You gotta love that face. just imagine he's your algebra teacher.
You gotta love that face. just imagine he’s your algebra teacher.

Intermezzo

Hi there, dearest readers… it’s sure been a while… I  am freshly back from a lekker long holiday in Europa, and wow, what a blast it has been.

Give me a few days to come back to you with some stunning images from a real underestimated holiday destination.

 

-2147473535 IMG-20130721-01444 IMG_0940 IMG_1016a IMG_1343 IMG_1418

Medieval Splendour, anyone? Landshuter Hochzeit!

Don’t miss out one a 1 in 4 years travel opportunity … (one of) the best historic festivals in the world.

Traveler's Log

Countless visitors from all over the world have experienced the “Landshuter Hochzeit 1475”, a historical pageant that is among the greatest in Europe.

More than 2,000 participants in medieval costumes bring a festival to life in all the splendour of the Late Middle Ages – the wedding between Hedwig, the Polish King’s daughter, and Georg, the son of the Landshut Duke.

The original medieval wedding is re-enacted every four years, and everyone gets carried away with medieval jousting, pageantry, feasting and wedding processions for a short period in the summer. The next 4 yearly celebration of the “Landshuter Hochzeit 1475” takes place from 28 June – 21 July 2013.

In 1474 ambassadors had been sent to Cracow to negotiate the marriage of the Polish King’s daughter. In the autumn of 1475 the 18-year-old bride left Cracow with a large escort and arrived at Landshut after travelling for two months. Princes and bishops…

View original post 368 more words

Stereotypes

Today is the kick off of the biggest Royal Wedding medieval spectacle you will ever watch.

Every four years the Bavarian city of Landshut, Germany, transforms itself into a medieval scene of a big Royal wedding with over 2000 actors in historic costumes performing the wedding as it took place in 1474 including knightly games.

IMG_0274
My German town of birth …

So maybe you can still get some tickets on Ebay and enjoy some knight tournaments or games at the fire – the festival lasts for a whole month.

A good opportunity to chat about stereotypes tonight!

nordhausen
I come from a cosy small town that’s over a 1000 years old and hosts a lot of historical festivities. Around the lovely town of Nordhausen are picturesque countrysides, fruitful plains and mountains with amazing hiking trails. I practically grew up on a mountain bike!

Traveling a LOT I painfully realized that Germans are mostly stereotyped by Hitler, Kraut and Wurst.

“Propaganda” (what else can we call the never ending BBC history version) is doing their best to keep Germans in the black-and-white WW2 documentary zone. The 60th cultural revolution? Never heard of. Arts? Music? Beautiful nature? Inventions? The miracle of the reunification? What’s that. English people actually believe Georg Friedrich Handel was British. The miracle of the reunification? Do not teach it!

IMG_0050
Many totally quiet spots at the Baltic sea invite you to ponder about life and creation …

Time and time again I get incredulous looks when showing pictures from my German home town: What, you have colours there? Trees? We thought it was always snowing.

aStuttgart 015
At every corner you can buy amazing delicacies … scrumptious pastries and freshly pressed juices … sauerkraut and sausage is more reserved for the Bavarians who are a distinct, loveable tribe of their own in Southern Germany. To reduce all Germans to Oktoberfest and Wurst would be a shame. Germans are also quite adventurous in their taste and love trying international cuisine. Every town has their favorite “Italian”, “Chinese”, “Greek”, and a turkish “Doner kebap” is probably more popular than a “burger” which originated from the “Fischbroetchen” (fish bun) sold in Hamburg …

And yes, it hurts a lot when “the boy in the striped pyjamas” is discussed over every dinner you are having with new acquaintances.

Never mind the fact that Germans are generally much more supportive of Jewish culture and appreciate modern Jewish literature. German kids have student exchanges with Israel – I myself have been send to live in a kibbutz my my German High school!

The horrible war is over for 70 years now and all German kids still have to go on educational trips to the concentration camps and are taught how horrible their ancestors were. aStuttgart 018I haven’t heard of an English primary school sending their kids to commemorate the South African camps the Afrikaans people were interred in. Oh, wait, there were no museums build to keep that guilt alive, right?

German is still paying big amounts to all victims and is the country whose war criminals have been painstakingly taken to court and punished which we can not say for the atrocities others have done in many nations …

aStuttgart 030Ah well I am just trying to say, please do not break out your great-uncles svastika flag when I come to visit.

Rather, let’s talk science and education, free state-of-the-art healthcare for everybody and playgrounds everywhere…

It is hard having to fight stereotypes every time. If  the only German you know is the evil European in any given Hollywood Thriller actor, it might be time to widen your horizon. Just saying. Stereotypes are so 1933.

That’s why I act a bit over the top when people talk like all Russians are thieves (been there, met amazing musicians and poets), all Chinese know martial arts (been to Asia and learned a thing or two) or all Americans are shallow (traveled almost all of the states and was surprised by the variety of culture – and if you want something DONE, an American will tell you that you can do it …) the list goes on and on.

We all need stereotypes to quickly have a frame of reference at hand to know what to expect. But don’t expect a grey, stiff, work robot when you hear German. That’s not what we’re all about. Please.

Waterfalls on the South African Panorama Route

Hi my cherished followers. I usually publish travel related posts in my Traveler’s Log, so that people who are just looking for a review on a certain area in the world can do so without being bothered by my personal essays and such. We recently had so much fun on the Panorama Route where we were ministering in a lovely little congregation. I thought to share some waterfall pictures with you. For posts about accommodation and what to do with children, just browse through the other posts! Have fun, hope you enjoy the images!

Traveler's Log

If you just joined the blog, look at the previous posts to find out more about the location of these amazing waterfalls.

Here are a few photos for you to enjoy the scenery without much further talking!

If you love right-clicking and saving: For a real small fee I will email you the non-watermarked original – isn’t that better than working with pictures not knowing if its legal?

View original post

Just imagine…

I am just walking home from work this morning, pushing my son in his pram. This lady is walking home in front of me, having just done her grocery shopping for the day at the little store around the corner.

To me it’s a daily sight but I thought some of you might still be amazed how one can transport 10l of water on one’s head.

South Africa, land of the free … languages.

löwen 020
When you want to go running with the lions … you gotta learn their languages.

Here is a small collection of idioms and unique expressions to enlighten you a bit about the Afrikaans language.

If you have never been to South Africa, you might not know that we’ve got 11 official languages here. Basically every ethnic group speaks their own tongue, although plenty of Africans wouldn’t know how to write in their native language, as English is, in most Provinces, the common denominator.

IMG_7664
My sons are growing up with the best of a lot of worlds. I hope they will have a bigger heart for it.

gnu2Afrikaaner is what the descendants of the Dutch settlers are calling themselves, meaning “Africans”. Since Afrikaaner is pronounced exactly the same as the German Afrikaner (meaning a black Afrikan), I always end up having to clear some confusions with my German friends about my Afrikaaner husband and extended family. Yes, a well meaning friend set down with me on the steps of my home church in Germany after the last youth service I attended before getting married. “I admire you, Christiane,” he said. “How are you going to cope, cooking in these big round pots over and open fire, living in a hut made of clay” … I indulged in allowing him to ramble on for a short while before I couldn’t hold my laughter in any more. “I am not going to be the next White Massai, my friend” I giggled. They do have roads and computers there, you know … and my husband is a brave descendant of Dutch adventurers looking for a life of freedom and opportunity…

The funny thing with languages is that you can not merely “speak” them. You feel them, because before you can speak them you have got to think them, right. Using different sounding expressions for the same thing gives that very same thing a totally different connotation. You simply can not speak Italian without using your hands, you can not speak Chinese without trying to be polite, when you speak German you have to think very hard because there is a precise word for nearly every single thing, and, well, when you speak Afrikaans you have got to be naughty.

P1070806Afrikaans is, in essence, a language for rebels, people who do not want to be pressed into a mold, people who where beaten and went off the hook and refused to stay down and keep pressing on no matter what. Afrikaaners, and this is totally subjective and can be disputed, although I doubt any Afrikaaner would fight this, are extremely stubborn in their views. And when it comes to their moms, or saying thank you in public, they get teary eyed. But put them out into the open veld (type of prairie),the berg (mountain), bos (the bush), you will see their true, loveable, romantic soul.

A fishing rod, utility knife, a tent, a 4×4 and a hat – in short, give them some freedom and they blossom like the Namaqua desert when it received a little rain.

I know it sounds all terribly stereotype …  but I hope in a good way.

Having to think it before I speak it, Afrikaans has changed me, added a lot of new outlooks on the worlds and given me some bold colours to understand the picture of life better.

Here’s some cool Afrikaans vocab that just goes with the mentality and is very endearing and unique. You know, like that rough log of a fallen tree you want to remove off a newly bought property by the sea. You don’t get around to clearing it up. Later you find it quite pretty, it’s rugged bark a dark contrast to the glowing sunset. And after a while, that log becomes kind of a landmark to your property and your kids will make it into a feature sculpture. This is what Afrikaans has become for me. In the beginning I thought:How simple. How flat. How unrefined. Well, now I wouldn’t know how to express a certain way of thinking any other way anymore. I started to “get” the soul of the whole thing. I am telling you, speaking Afrikaans has added a lot of smiles to my daily life.

faces
Explaining life to my kids in 3 languages …

How do you explain the word “sommer” to anyone. It’s not just a word, it is a concept. “Somehow”, “winging it”, “just because” could be used to translate it. A German would probably never do something “just sommer”. This lovely expression enables me to do something without having to explain myself at all. It might explain though, why some Afrikaans ladies I met, loved to paint every single wall in their house a different colour. “Just sommer”.

A bakkie …

A “Bakkie” can be anything from a little pick-up truck to all sizes and shapes of containers and dishes around the house. In my native German every single kitchen item has a different name attached to it. “Steven, could u bring Mama a Schüssel, or wait, I thinkI need just Schälchen,  just bring me a bakkie will you please?”

And I don’t even know what to call a bakkie-car in German. Seriously. Maybe an SUV. But with an open back, hence: bowl, or dish, right?
Then there is “voetstoots” of course. It’s been officially adopted into
South African English. There’s no concise, one-word equivalent in English. Buy the car “As is” just doesn’t hack it. “Buy it in the current condition even if you need to push it home by foot” can be expressed so short and to the point in Afrikaans.  And it’s such a humorous word, conjuring up images of pushing that brand new car home…

avacation 115

I think “gogga” is the most delightful word for insect I’ve ever heard. Click the word to hear its correct pronunciation. Children all over the world should use it. “Insect” just doesn’t stand a chance. Gogga was one of the first words my baby used to say, jumping with excitement!

And the exclamation of disgust “sis” – doesn’t that just obliterate the English “phew”. “Sis man, dis gagga, los dit” equals:”leave this disgusting thing alone”. You see when you speak the Queen’s English, you can not help sounding somewhat high browed and above it all. That is no way to talk to a child. Afrikaans always makes my kids smile. Really. That is how a different mentality creeps into your heart when you start speaking it.

“Donder” is a strange word, meaning thunder but used as an all-purpose swear word,
which again has no good English translation.
Used as a verb, it can express any degree of roughing up.
As a noun, it is a pejorative, as they politely say in dictionaries, to
mean whatever you want it to mean.

I am not, ever, ever, allowed to use that word while I still haven’t understood the concept of lightning and thunder being offensive. So when it comes to the weather, I am talking to my kids strictly in German. Afrikaaners are very very sensitive about using curse words although I always wonder when we are out barbecuing in the bush, some other people really can talk bad. But it apparently depends on the occasion. Still need to figure that one out.

IMG_4422
Granted, tigers aren’t native to Africa. But when you speak Afrikaans, you bother less about the small print and just get to the point. My son is “glad nie bang nie”!

It says something about the English that they have no word for “jol”.
Probably the dictionary compilers regard it as slang, but it’s widely
used for “Going out on the town, kicking up your heels, enjoying
yourself…” (See, there’s no English translation)

I’ve yet to meet a South African over the age of two who doesn’t use the
word “muti”. Translation is impossible – “witches potion” is about the nearest I
can get. It needs a long cultural historical explanation. Between “muti” and
the pedantic “medication” , there’s simply no contest.

biltong
Biltong – dried meat like beef jerkey but better, is a welcome gift anytime. Looks and sounds strange, tastes lekker!

How do you explain the passion of “LEKKER!”? Wow last night was a
“lekker jol” – The German “lecker” would translate as “delicious” whereas the Afrikaans word can mean that everything from grannies cooking to a new dress, a car, a movie, a visit, was thoroughly enjoyable or nice. But nice is boring. Lekker is – lekker.

Dudu or doeks. Telling your infant to go to bed is just not the same as:
“Go dudu now my baby!”

How about ‘bliksem” – I’m going to bliksem you or ek gaan jou donder!

Both wonderful Afrikaans expressions with nothing to compare in the
English language, at least nothing that gives the same satisfaction.

Pap

Mielie pap – there is no word like pap to describe this food. In English, they have porridge, and when they say porridge, they mean oats. In German, a poridge would be a Brei, sounding exactly like Braai, the Afrikaans way of saying BBQ. And with your steak you have to have pap and sous, maize meal porridge and home made tomato relish.

But pap is also used for any breakfast cereal – even ordinary cornflakes are called pap.

Speaking of food. Gewoene, meaning ordinary, literally “what I am used to”, tea, is used to describe what we would call black tea, or Darjeeling or Ceylon etc. Do not order black tea. You might get locked up for racism. In English, you order “five roses” although that brand also produces herbal Rooibos tea, and in Afrikaans you MUST say “gewoene” tea.

HVD (11)
My very own little skelm.

Which brings us to skelm – here you just get ‘baddies’, but that doesn’t
have the same sneaky connotation of a proper skelm, does it?!
A Schelm in German is a prankster. You would say to a cute 2year old who just got you to surrender a sweet to him:You little Schelm. Do not say that in South Africa. Although to my German ear the world skelm sounds happy and cute, it actually describes a criminal here.

Loskop is another favourite. The English just don’t understand when I
say ‘Sorry, I forgot – I’m such a loskop!’ It kinda means my head is loose.

And “now now”. No one else in the world uses this English version of the Afrikaans concept “nou nou”. It means anything from in 2hours or 2 years. Do not expect anybody to help you right now, when they use the word nou. And when they say nou twice, it does not mean they will help you even faster. Nou nou means: Get over yourself, I have more important stuff to do right now.

I hope you had fun bridging some linguistic worlds with me tonight.

Don’t forget that a traffic light is a robot in South Africa.

There are countless more unique words in Afrikaans, but this blog is, by wordpress standards, un-postable long already.

Thanks for staying tuned,

Christiane

IMG_4333